posted on September 13, 2008 05:57
Super Extra Bonus Party, Groom and The Dublin Duck Dispensery live at HWCH
Review Snapshot: The opening night of 2008’s HWCH festival saw bands faced with joke shop organistional problems and disgraceful sound in the festival’s main venue. Despite that there was plenty to enjoy.
The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10
After a brief flirtation with the POD complex last year The Hard Working Class Heroes Festival returned to its traditional home of Temple Bar and its environs last night to, at least on an organisational level, mixed results at best. The first bands I saw were over the river in the Academy. Having spoken to a few people in the run up to the festival it seems that a lot of people are somewhat unenthusiastic about the prospect of making the trek over to Abbey Street. In all seriousness, it takes less than 5 minutes to walk there from The Button Factory/Meeting House Square.
Upon my arrival I discovered that due to a miscommunication with the venue the closing band of the night, Class of 1984, who were due to finish up at 11:30 were expected to be done at 11 so the Academy could open its club. Apparently indie types where it’s the men that use GHD aren’t really the preferred clientele. This meant that all sets were cut by 10 minutes and soundchecks seemingly consisted of “alright lads, are ya all plugged in to the amps? Ok, go.” It was actually a really shoddy state of affairs and completely unfair to the bands.
Given the circumstances it was always going to be the bands whose sound could get away with being on the rough side that would handle the situation best. Enter the vaguely alt-country nerd stylings of Groom. Playing songs about love, death and maths and bolstered by an infrequent appearance by noisey co-founding guitarist Fiachra McCarthy (Pantone 24/7) the band had an edge that I’ve never heard from them at previous gigs. In spite of, or perhaps because, of the tricky conditions surrounding their set I’ve rarely enjoyed seeing Groom play more.
Also able to overcome the lack of soundcheck were ultra lo-fi three-piece The Dublin Duck Dispensary who, as “they” up till now had been a home recording solo project, were making their live debut at the festival. And for a first gig they managed to be remarkably self assured, all scratchy guitars and synths and Islands influenced vocals with songs ranging in duration from 25 seconds to a couple of minutes. Provided that this wasn’t just a once off gig for them and they develop into a more regular going concern as a band due to their unique for Dublin sound I do think this is a bunch that people could take notice of.
Next up were The Revellions. I just don’t like the style of music that they make. After a couple of their retro garage rock numbers it was time to head off to Meeting House Square.
And Meeting House Square is where the major problem for HWCH this year really became apparent. I’m not going to review the bands I saw playing because it’d be totally unfair to them. Due to council imposed decibel level restrictions the sound in the venue was a complete and utter joke. Super Extra Bonus Party looked like they were giving it socks on the stage but out front it seemed like you were listening to them through water. I realise that it’s somewhat a residential area but we’re talking about not that late in Temple Bar on weekend evening here. This is the supposed showpiece venue for the whole festival and to be honest they would have been better off not bothering their arses booking bands for the place. I can almost guarantee that despite quality bands like Bats, Halves, Fight Like Apes and others on the bill there over the course of the festival there won’t be a single really good gig there all weekend. And for what? So hen night revellers are able to hear themselves as they puke in to a gutter? At one point I thought that Northern Ireland’s Fighting With Wire, the final band of the night, were going to refuse to go on. Had they done so I can’t say I would have blamed them.
Though to be honest, had I been able to hear them properly I doubt I would have been into them anyway.
In addition to Steven O'Rourke's Festival Diary for Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of HWCH 2008, check out the following CLUAS reviews of bands who played the festival: